As a business leader you’re faced with the unenviable task of making the everyday decisions that shape your business of tomorrow. Some are relatively straightforward and could take mere moments to evaluate, while those critical to the overall success are typically more complex and require an extensive assessment for what’s best.
On the IT front, one such decision is the one between on-site IT services and those provided in the Cloud. Unlike a cozy scarf to shield against the blistering UK chill, there’s no definitive ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and your assessment for - or against - either option is going to be as complex as your business is.
That said, there are a few key areas to consider when evaluating whether onsite services or the Cloud are best for your business. Here’s our list of top points to think about.
4 ‘Head-to-Head’ Considerations of On-Site vs. Cloud Services
Does your business rely on fast access to data?
Fast (or slow, for that matter) is a relative term and speed is based on perception, so while the typical answer here would be ‘of course’ it’s wise to weigh up your expectation of speed compared to accessibility of data.
Cloud based services provide unrivalled access to your data, but the trade-off is speed. Naturally a good Fibre based internet connection will boost performance, but even then it will not beat the speed of an on-site server, Ethernet bonded or Fibre connected to a switch.
What’s more valuable to you and your business – speed or access?
Where would your data actually be stored?
This may sound like a bit of a paradox, as the Cloud is generally considered to be this big virtual ‘space’, but the truth is that those servers are in fact firmly secured to a piece of land in some country. A country that will have its own rules, regulations and laws when it comes to data.
If you’re considering storing your data in the Cloud, be sure to establish the actual geographical location of the server(s) and understand how the compliance criteria meets or differs from the regulations of your country of operation. If you’re a multinational, this can become a minefield of compliance versus convenience and as such a critical aspect of Cloud storage to think about. Even when on-site services are used, it’s important to get to grips with the legislative framework you need to adhere to, and ensure you’re compliant.
How safe would your data be?
Security risks for data are abound – whether stored on-site or in the Cloud – and at the end of the day, it comes down to your individual business’ tolerance for risk, and based on the sensitivity of the data you own or manage.
On-site services ensure that you and your IT staff are the only ones privy to your data. Your security practices will be policy-driven and you maintain control over the processes.
In a Cloud environment, you have to factor in a third party. Even when encryption services are used, the Cloud provider will still have some level of access to your data and your security policies and processes are going to become more complex. A pivotal issue revolves around accountability and who would be held responsible for data breaches or in the worst case scenario - deletion or destruction.
Security is arguably the one factor where the Cloud poses more of a risk than an on-site installation and as such is one to carefully consider. Take your time on this point. Do your ‘homework’ and ensure the Cloud provider is transparent with their security policies.
IT - CapEx vs OpEx?
With the pace at which technology evolves these days, the lifespan of most IT infrastructure has shortened dramatically. Systems and devices become outdated within a matter of months or years. The decision will rest on whether you prefer to own or ‘rent’ the infrastructure and the costs associated with each option.
On-site services incur not only the initial capital outlay, but the ongoing running costs such as power and maintenance too. The infrastructure also depreciates in value, and if we consider a typical financial write-off of an internal hardware purchase on a 3 year plus 1 year usage cycle, often a Cloud based service will save you money in the long run.
Cloud based services are generally based on subscription models and typically require monthly, quarterly or annual payments. As a recurring cost, this spend is visible and can be easily defined. The added bonus here is that you’re not responsible for the running, maintenance or replacement of the infrastructure.
The evaluation between deploying on-site IT services and using Cloud alternatives will vary from organisation to organisation, but looking at these primary factors is a good start at assessing your individual needs and deciding on the best option for your business.